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More Meta than you'd expect

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It was at the precipice of Spring Break when the news came out. One Sunday night, Jake Dillinger's little sister, Brooke, had been kidnapped. The ransom was not for money, but for the ownership of the Dillinger Lab research team. Many seemed to forget that that was where the resident cool guy's family got his wealth. They only saw Jake as the cool guy, as the chill skater dude, as the boy with so much money he could buy his way to an A+, but he didn't.
Only Rich seemed to know better. That that cool exterior was just a facade. That his high grades were from the pressure to be like his parents. That the smiles he and Brooke wore were masks to show that they never saw each other outside of school and that few would even acknowledge that they were related. Rich knew the pressure Jake was under. But Jake didn't know Rich. Rich was just a shadow in the school halls. A geek who no one noticed. But this was his chance to get noticed!
Few knew this, but Rich had connections. True, he had only reached out once or twice, but they always gave him vague offers. But the email he had received came the weekend Jake's Facebook hinted something was wrong and he now knew for certain that his suspicions were true. See, Rich was one of the teens recruited by the Scopes, a top-secret spy organization that uses teens that can easily fade away or blend in to do reconnaissance and other spy things. He thought it was totally bogus at first, but a while back Rich noticed that all the kids eating the school lunches were acting weird and some dude he bumped into warned him the day before to bring lunch from home. He found a card in his pocket and was able to follow instructions to slip an antidote into the food and nobody was the wiser. In short, Rich was totally a hero and nobody would ever know.
He found himself getting emails that looked like spam at first glance, but were hints at missions to accept. Rich went home and found the fake spam message from last weekend. He called a number listed as “Commit Frog Exhibit” and typed the number hidden in the email.

“A bee in a jacket blends in as a fly,” Rich whispered.
“Hello. Agent Hopper, it's a pleasure to hear from you again,” A familiar voice greeted.
“'Sup, Froggy! What's kickin'?” Rich asked.
“I see you have responded to the Dillenger case,” Agent Commit said in a breezy voice.
“Yep! You guys know who got Brooke?” Rich asked.
“Our intel has reason to believe it is the Octelery Corporation. Though the ransom video did use an alias.”
“Those sucky Squids!” Rich scoffed “So, need me to sneak around and make sure we've got the right ones?”
“Something along those lines.” In the background, there was a click of a pen and a tap on a keyboard. “We have several possible locations. You will be sent in a team of two to infiltrate this building. If you see anything suspicions or find the captive, send for backup.”
“Ooh! I'm getting a side-kick?”
“More like a partner. This is, however, Agent Zero's first serious mission.”
“Agent Zero?”
“He chose the name.” Rich could hear the shrug in Commit's voice. “I'm sending you the coordinates for the drop-off spot. There you will find a package with the necessary gear and directions to the rendezvous. Do you accept this mission?”
Rich's phone buzzed. There was a hot second when he checked his messages wondering if Jake had responded to his texts telling him to hang in there and that he was there if Jake needed to talk. He doubted Jake even had his number still saved from that blessed time they had a group project, but it was almost a reflex to check.
Suddenly, he was looking at a Mapquest page with instructions to a taco shop. His disappointment was easily replaced with relief. He actually knew where that was. “Wicked,” He said with a smirk as he deleted the instructions and pocketed his wallet and some water.
Along the way to the Taco Shop there was a tree. Qhen Rich pressed his palm against its bark, a compartment opened up in the floor and Rich found himself sliding down, down, down. He landed in a pile of pillows and next to his landing spot there was a cardboard box. With a shrug, Rich picked up the box and wandered through the underground chamber until he found a room big enough to change in. The contents of the Box included a skin-tight suit that matched his skin tone, some fake ear caps, and a karate ghee, of all things. Once he was done changing, he wandered the chamber and called out, “Hello? Hellooooo?”
“Hey,” an honestly, kind of familiar voice called out.
Wait, you shouldn't just openly have a conversation there was a code, damnit! You can't always trust what you see, that's what you need glasses!
Reguardless, Rich and the mysterous figure each took a step close to each other and in the dim light, Rich could recognize the figure.
“Rich? Oh shit! Wait. Our names...”
“Harper, agent Harper.”
“Oh, Zero! So, I guess we're working together?”
“Seems like. Did your eyes give you a location?”
“Only to the drop-off point...but I think there was a set of instructions in the box.”
They both rushed to retrieve the boxes their gear was in and ,sure enough, there was a set of papers. When they rearranged the papers in a coherent order, they gave directions to a local Karate Dojo. Once they had the directions memorized, they threw the papers in the incinerator hidden in the wall. After walking through the tunnel for a while, they eventually found themselves in a park. Gathering their bearings, they figured out where exactly they were and followed the directions to the dojo.
Luckily, they didn't have to take any karate lessons and nobody really seem to realize that they weren't regular students. This allowed them to wander the dojo. They looked through the sea of students for familiar bed of blonde hair, but none of the blondes there matched Brooke's height. They next looked through the daycare center and any crooks one might hide in, but all that were there were some children playing hide and seek. Next, they wandered through, changing rooms, through bathrooms, and found what they assumed was a door to the sensei's breakroom. Rather than an office or room litered with couches, however, they found a set of stairs. Bingo!
After more wandering, they found themselves in an underground chamber filled with many small rooms. While it would seem like a good idea to cover more ground by splitting up, both had seen enough scary movies to know that is not what one should do and stuck to walking side-by-side. Rich looking to his left, and Jeremy looking to his right. It was quite apparent that they couldn't pick up any noise of cries or any other hints to where a captive may be, and the ki-ais (as Jeremy defined the karate screames) seeped into the undreground dungeon to mask any other noise.
"There's got to be a way to find her," Richie exclaimed
“Ugh!" Jeremy ground " I can't smell anything other than sweat!”
“That's it! Brooke wears really strong perfume. Maybe we'll be able to pick it up?”
“Now that you mention it, my EYEs did mention something about a scent enhancer in our face masks.”
“How do we activate that?”
Jeremy was quiet for a moment with his ear pressed or with his hand pressed to his fake ear.
“Scent enhancer engage?” He commanded in and unsure voice.
“I did not know we had those,” Rich scoffed.
“Are you sure this isn't your first mission, too?” Jeremy teased
“No, I've been on like two before this? But I've never needed to use a 'scent enhancer' before.”
“Well, you probably will need it now!”
“Scent enhancer engage,” Rich repeated Jeremy's words in a deadpan voice.
The minute it was on, Rich immediately regretted it. Sweat was a bad enough smell ,but now he could pick up every single drop of the sweat, and the muskiness of the chamber, and the dust, and something that smells kind of strong and alcoholic, or? But not in the sense of beer, more like perfume?
“I think I've got it!” Rich turned to Jeremy, then frowned when he saw the boy hiding a laugh behind his hand.
“You can adjust what sense they pick up, by the way,” Jeremy chuckled
“Stupid freaking newbie with a better tutorial,” Rich crumbled.
There was a laugh in his ear piece, and Rich listened to his eyes giving him instructions on how to adjust the scent.
Soon all he could pick up was the scent of what he suspected to be Brooke perfume. They follow their noses until the scent got stronger and stronger then, slightly weaker? They must have passed it. They turned back and found some several rooms. Listening closely they could pick up ragged breaths and sobbing.
Rich knocked on the door hello? He asked that's how the microphone in the face mask disguised his voice. It sounded natural, but not his own, wasn't that a weird experience?
! I'm sorry I'll be good I'll be good I'll be good! Please just let me go I'm sure my parents will give you everything. Do you need money? I have money on me well, I had money on me but you guys did take off my stuff. The boys
Exchange to look at Brooks nervous rambling.
We're not your captors Jeremy, Jeremy assured her.
Oh, really? And why is that? And how do I know that's true?
Because, rich said is he cracked his knuckles, captors would not do this!Rich backed up a bit and gave the Dora running kick,
There was a dull thud, but nothing other than that.
Why did I think that would work? Rich grounded himself internally.
Hey, zero? We got anything that can break this door down?
... I am not sure?
Do we have anything other than gea's? Rich inspected his hand. He knew for a fact that they would put something in this body suit two-masted fingertips fingerprints to mask his fingerprints, but they were doing a reconnaissance mission. He doubted they wasted any cool lasers on two newbies.
Is now the point we call for backup? Jeremy whisper to Rich.
Hey, Hopper to frog. We found the captive. Can we get somebody to help us open up the door?
Rodger that, Hopper, we're sending back up immediately. Please stand by.
So, do we just wait here or find a different way to open the door or...?
Rich honestly didn't know. This was his first time doing a mission where you actually needed to wait for backup. Normally, something would go awry and back it would appear just in the nick of time.There wasn't much they could else they could do at this point. The only thing he could think of was try to pick the lock, or try to calm broke down. He however, did not have anything with which to pick the lock. At first glance, the lock looked like other doors they'd encountered, but nothing seemed to give away any weakness in the lock. The door leading to The Cellar needed a key card that they had a gadget to bypass. This lock seemed like an ordinary lock, but with a keypad for codes, what he assumed was a genetic reader, and voice command thing and a voice detector voice reader. Jeremy and Rich went back and forth talking about how the different aspects of the lock worked and what they had that could help in the situation. They didn't have any of the DNA, but maybe they could use the keypad in combination with a hacking device, and use their masks to disguise her voice as somebody in the Octillery.
They attempted to do just that, and when they got to the point of voice recognition, Jeremy called out. Okay, Brooke, we're going to do some thing that will make her voice to sound weird, but it's still us. And even if you don't believe us, as soon as we get the store open, run. Will try to help you escape in any way we can..
Based on what they saw from the key code and the fake ID card, they guessed that the head of the organization was Calvin Reynolds, a wealthy man that was clear that clearly held a vision of the world.
Voice imitator, Reynolds mode initiate, Rich commanded
Unlock the door, which commanded in his digital impersonation. It did just that with a satisfying click, and Rich and Jeremy eagerly Push the door open.
They found Brooke change to the floor and using a lockpick that didn't come with their gear, but that Jeremy had apparently brought himself, they freed Brooke from the chains.
Brooke ran forward and gave Rich and Jeremy each a huge hug.
Thank you, or?
It doesn't matter who we are, rich said, in Reynolds voice
We're just here to help Jeremy said ashe urged her to follow him out the door.

Of course, that's when things stopped being easy. The minute Brooke said her foot past the door, a warm started wearing. Jeremy grab Brooks hand and began to run rich chased after them. There was no way they were exiting through the dojo at this point. But there had to be an underground exit.
Hey, frogs? Remember that back up? We might be needing it sooner.
I expected as much the agent side in his ear
They raced through the cellar, and every time they met a dead-end, they were cornered by people in karate GIs. Jeremy and Rich shared panicked look. Aside from the two years he took in grade school, Jeremy had no combat training, and Rich was no better. Luckily, they didn't need any fighting experience. Simultaneously, they gave the command, fighting mode engage.
The body suits they wore underneath the keys underneath the karate uniforms had a special structure designed to allow remote accessof the agents wearing them. Somewhere in a headquarters location rich and Jeremy did not know of, Agents frog and parrot they're using what may as well be video game controllers to puppet their agents movements, assisted by the cameras in their cars in their blue and green contacts.
They escaped several mobs, and eventually decided to retrace their steps back to the door, as they could not find any exit, and the layout of this chamber was not in the spec state of place data banks.
The door was obviously closed, but rich and Jeremy were both tired of dealing with locks, and with the assistance of their agents, delivered two powerful kicks to the door, that made it burst open.
Across from what was supposed to be the sensei's rec room, was a lost and found box filled with clothes. Brooke dug through the lost and found until she could pull out a shirt, pair of pants, and shoes that fit her. They've heard of their eyes and stood guard as she quickly changed. Save then snuck out of the back room, walks across the dojo, and made their leave. Close behind them we're some guards dressed up as karate instructors. They didn't have much time to chase after the boys and Brooke, as this, of course, was the moment that the prodigal backup had arrived. Jeremy, rich, and Brooke booked it as fast as they could. As they passed some agents, they were handed what looked like skateboards, but with blue designs on them. Apparently, whatever trial Mission Jeremy was on involves him using these supposedly skateboards, so he had the pleasure of walking Rich through piloting his. Also due to his experience with this device, three agreed that Brooke should ride with Jeremy. It also helped that Jeremy was taller, easier to hold on to,and study enough that Brick that Brooke could cling to him without worrying about messing up his balance.
They followed the instructions fed to them and snakes their way through the town taking the scenic route to the Dillinger mansion.
Once in the ushered brokencyde and said their goodbyes.
So, does this mean we should avoid each other at school, or hang out more? Jeremy asked rich as they made their way to an underground entrance.
I think we just wing it, rich said with a shrug. If I bump into you at school, and you seem pretty chill, I might say hi. Just because we met each other here, doesn't mean we have to suddenly be buddies that's cool. At school.
Jeremy seems content with this Arrangement and didn't say anything else as they made their way into a tunnel, parted ways, and changed out of their suits and into their casual clothes.
The minute Rich steps back above ground, he turned his phone back on and felt it Buzz. There was a text from a number Rich had saved earlier that week as Jakes.
" dude, guess what?"
" My parents are thinking of paying the ransom."
" honestly, I was worried they wouldn't."
" Isn't that terrible? I wasn't sure if my own parents were willing to give something up for their daughter."
" they're saying that they're going to respond to the ransom tomorrow."
" wish they would do it sooner."
" I mean, I know that other people's lives are on the line, and it sucks that I even that we even have to think about that, but I just want my sister back."
" Holy snap, there's a noise at the door."
" you typically don't pass what I text you around, so I'm going to admit this."
" I'm actually a bit scared."
" what if they come for me?"
" What if Brooks truly gone?"
" what if I get taken too, and my parents decide to not pay the ransom?"
" oh my gosh!"
" She's back."
" She said the two strangers broke her out and brought her home."
" I don't know who these dudes are, but I'm grateful for them."
" she's back!"sorry for spamming you with texts,
You can go ahead and delete these"
That last text was sent a few minutes ago, so rich decided it wouldn't seem like he was immediately answering.
"yo. Got ur txts."
"that rox! IM :) 4 u"
Rich cringed at his texting language, but he was limited to the characters and if he went over, it would not go well with his dad.
"Thanx! I'm glad she's back, too."
"Sry I couldn't txt u. Lost my cell n i hav lim txting. :("
"Dude, that's fine. Hey, wanna hang out so we can talk in person?"
Wouldn't he want to spend time with his sister, he wanted to ask. Should he be worried about getting recognized?
"u sure?" He asked instead.
"Brooke's inviting friends over. I need a bro."
"k. c u soon! :)"

Someday, he'd be able to tell Jake. They would laugh over coincidences and how obvious they were. Someday, they would kick back and watch a movie and it wouldn't be as bros hanging out. Someday, They would see each other eye to eye and Rich would make sure Jake knew he was Rich's world and that he was perfect no matter what he did. That even his fails were cute and amazing and perfect. That he'd love him no matter what and that he could count on Rich to shoulder some of his pain. Someday, he would do all that. For now, though, he was content to just be noticed by someone. To have someone he wasn't invisible to.



-meet up
-Jeremy is Zero
-His instructor is Kenny/agent Parrot
-Say some code phrase
-Change into outfits with hidden gear and accessories that function as coms
-Sneak into a karate studio
-Walk around in karate gi's
-Are wearing blue contacts and face masks.
-Find Brooke
-Fight with karate
-they're wearing onsies under gi's that allow their agents to controll their movements
-Save Brooke and return her home.
-texts Jake before.
-Ends up sending him texts throughout asking if everything is okay
-Gets a thank you
-After that, becomes bros with Jake.
-Remember to change the names to the characters from Tubular